California State Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance

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In September 2009, the state adopted the Water Conservation in Landscaping Act of 2006 (AB 1881). As of January 1, 2010, all local jurisdictions will be required to implement this law, with the aim of reducing water consumption by landscaping. 

Landscaping is believed to use, on average, more than half the water used in urban areas. The state Department of Water Resources (DWR) has prepared a Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) for use by local jurisdictions to ensure a reduction of water waste and to stretch the limited water supplies of the state. For your convenience the City has MWELO Applicability & Submittal Guidance.

The new state ordinance contains specific requirements related to the design, installation, maintenance, and performance of new and rehabilitated landscapes. The designs must be based on regional conditions, including average rainfall and plants (and irrigation) adapted to the local area.

The ordinance applies to all new or rehabilitated landscapes over 2,500 square feet in size for all commercial, industrial, and developer-installed residential landscaping. It also applies to homeowner-installed new residential landscapes over 5,000 square feet that need a building or landscape permit, or plan check.

The attached DWR MWELO handout presents an overview of the water efficient landscaping ordinance, including several of its more important requirements.